Git Best Practices

TL;DR: many edX tools and scripts depend upon Git commit messages so it is important that we are consistent in our usage.

Table of Contents


It is recommended that all developers run the following Git configuration commands:

git config --global --add branch.autosetupmerge true
git config --global --add branch.autosetuprebase always
git config --global --add push.default simple

Git has an issue with files containing unicode characters in their file name on any system using HFS+ filesystem. If you use a Mac and experience an untracked file immediately upon cloning the edx-platform repo, try running the following configuration command:

git config --global core.precomposeunicode false

Commit Messages

  • Many edX tools and scripts depend upon consistency in Git commit messages
    • Many tools including GitHub assume the presence of a short title
    • Release scripts and others can extract the ticket numbers to include in a list of commits
    • JIRA links tickets to any commits that include that ticket's number
  • Commit messages should follow a regular format based on Conventional Commits.  
    • The first line of a commit message should be a title broken into type: subject in 70 characters or less
    • Further comments should be paragraphs wrapped to 72 characters
    • Include the JIRA ticket number on its own line to be picked up by scripts
    • If it is a breaking change, there should be a BREAKING CHANGE: footer
    • Read OEP 0051 for type descriptions and full details
  • Example commit message:

    build: handle private.txt files properly
    The requirements/edx/private.txt file is for dev's own private package
    needs.  There are two installation mechanisms in edx-platform, and
    neither handled the file properly:
    - `paver install_prereqs` had the wrong file name.  The file was moved
      almost three years ago, and paver wasn't kept up.
    - `make requirements` used `private.*` which included, which
      pip-sync balks at.
    Fixes: BOM-2345

Squashing commits

  • Squash commits (as appropriate) before requesting a review.
  • Do not squash commits once a review has started, to aid reviewers.
  • Squash commits after the review, before merging a PR.

See Also